Friday, December 24, 2010

The Rooftoppers at Bklyn Rod & Gun

Simon Chardiet (left) & Dave Dreiwitz
On Kent St., across from the East River is a club that desperately does not want to be found. Even if you have the address, you will only know it's number 59 because 57 is painted in 5' high numbers on the door next to it. Inside, the decor is 1970s fishing club--fishing posters, rough hewn tables constructed with saw horses (I think, didn't look that closely), handmade shelves deep enough to support LPs--and a record player. That's the club. One room.

You can buy tickets at $10 each. They are worth two drinks at the bar, which is narrow, and mainly for use of the barman and a place to put the free bratwurst sandwiches. The musicians set up in the back, on the floor.

The reason I found this place, which I felt at home in immediately, was my quest to see some good jazz in New York City. I had been in a quandary about where to see good jazz in NYC for some time. I want to stay away from the fake scene that is primarily a tourist attraction. My musician friends who play mostly rock feel the same way I do, except that their dislike for bad jazz is even more paralyzing for them than it is for me. Incorrect. I think we're equally paralyzed. I don't know what is more embarrassing--being in the NYC scene for so long and not in the know, or perhaps showing up at something bad and having to leave.

But I got an invitation on fb for an event from Simon Chardiet (Simon and the Bar Sinisters, Rancid, Heavy Trash) that he would be playing jazz at this club with Dave Dreiwitz (everywhere, most famously of Ween). I have known Simon for 15 years, and I have to say all his music is the real deal--certainly not for tourists.

I found the atmosphere cozy, but not artificially so, and the regulars/workers friendly and considerate.

The show itself was just great. Simon played one of his Les Pauls and Dave played an upright bass, sometimes with a bow. They played mostly jazz, with a few blues tunes and an occasional 50s rock n' roll tune like "Suzy Q." Simon's guitar playing always edgy, partly from his hard attack on the strings. His classical practice also adds precision to his playing, giving each note a sharp edge. Dave's fluid solos were a good counterpoint to Simon's playing.

After hanging around and listening for a while, I got into some 1940s style dancing--nothing too athletic--just like they did in the movies, arm in arm and having a little conversation. 

Sooner after that I left out of fatigue. Great show. I highly recommend The Rooftoppers and Bklyn Rod & Gun. But don't tell anyone about Rod & Gun. The bar does not want to be found.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon, Karate, My Mother and Me

So much on John Lennon everywhere today. I have to say he was in heavy rotation in my house growing up. When he died we happened to be in NYC. We went to his funeral with thousands upon thousands of others.
 Being 10 years old, I couldn't see much of what was going on, so my dad thought it would be okay if I moved about 10 feet away, and get a better view of the stage.
Not much was happening on stage. I turned around to look for my parents. The crowd had shifted and I couldn't see them. Some hippies took me to the police, whom my parents had taught me to never, ever trust. I was terrified.
 While I was in the single-wide trailer the police were using as a base of operations for this gathering, my mom was terrified because she couldn't find me. My mom was 5'10, wearing all black leather and short wavy/spikey blond hair. She walked across the empty stage because that was the fastest way to the police-trailer. When she got on stage, everyone applauded. I guess she seemed like someone who might say something. She broke down crying. And everyone applauded again. 
She found me at the police station. I demanded to learn karate because I didn't want to be in that position again.
I left karate about 6 months later, sometime after my orange belt. I left because I was the only girl in a class full of 14 year old, metal-head crusties. I held my own in sparring matches (no helmets then!)  As an animal lover though, I couldn't bare to be around people who were so interested in biting heads off bats, and other animal torture. I don't know if those stories are true, but the way their eyes lit up when they told them was really disgusting.